Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Scarlett Michel, Founder of ReynaMonroe, located in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My brand is ReynaMonroe, aka RMSwim. I recently launched my very first mini collection of three swimsuits with two color options with all different hip lengths and panty cuts. After college, I had been designing custom for two years, mainly for prom, and in 2015 I made my first set of swimsuits, and I loved the look of them so much that I knew one day I’d create a line.
It took me many years to build up the courage to finally press go, but last year in 2022, I finally launched my first-ever collection. (Even after I found what I wanted to do in 2015, I continued to do custom, I allowed myself to get too comfortable).
My customers are women who wear “standard” sizes but may have fuller bodies. (If you wear standard sizes without a fuller body, you may need to size down, I provide a size chart) I custom-made my own pattern to include women who have a hard time finding one-piece swimsuits that fit both their bust and their hips/butt. Often times these women are left out, and their only option is two-piece swimsuits. I also made the waist so the ladies could be snatched. Even when getting out of the water, there isn’t any bagginess to the swimsuit. It really fits like a glove.
My customer is someone who loves to travel and loves fashion. She always wants to look and feel good in everything she puts on, and swimsuits are a part of her fashion wardrobe. This is a novelty swim collection, you can swim in the water, but it’s ideal for the woman who is on vacation somewhere like the Caribbean sipping on her cocktail poolside, possibly celebrating a birthday or achievement.
Tell us about yourself
In high school, I thought I wanted to be a stylist. I loved fashion, but there wasn’t a degree to just style, and during that time, going to college was a must, so I thought, what better way than to style people in my own garments when I’m done with college? With absolutely no knowledge in high school, I made my prom dress mostly by hand 🤦🏽♀️. I knew then I’d continue and learn about fashion design.
I went to Columbia College & it’s been ten years since I completed my journey there. In 2021 I finally decided I would push go on launching my very own line, I can’t believe it took me almost nine years when my intention was always to have my own line. My brand is ReynaMonroe (named after my parents.) Prior to that, I was doing custom work. I spent most of 2022 working with a manufacturer and launched in September of ’22, and in 2023 I’ve been focusing on marketing RMSwim.
What motivates me is the fact that I know women will love these one-piece swimsuits. They look good. They are fun, they are sexy, and they are constructed well. I took my time to create the pattern to be more inclusive for more body types. Normally standard industry patterns are used, but it was so important to me to create products for an underserved niche. I know that once more people catch on to what I’ve done, the collection will be a major hit.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner so far is the fact that I followed through with the process. A few years ago, I attempted to launch a mini dress collection but did not follow through out of fear. I made one post that I had launched and didn’t do anything else after. This time I bet on myself, I did a lot of research, saved money, found a manufacturer, worked hard on creating a custom pattern, and still decided to launch in the fall when I knew that was not the season. But it was indeed the time.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things in being a business owner is marketing and promoting. I’m not a salesperson and don’t want to convince people to buy a great product. I’m a designer, but owning a business means that now I am more of a business owner than I am a designer. The design part is over for now. And I don’t have any experience running a business, so I’m trying to find ways to market in a healthy way that aligns with my morals. I’m selling a product, but this product is meant to make women feel good. And I’m not willing to do just anything for likes/buys because I want my customers to genuinely buy a product they know they’d love.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Research. Research whatever you can, and if you’re able to ask people who have done similar, use your resources to ask questions. But research every aspect of what you want to do. Start with, for example, listing what is needed to start a fashion business. Take that list you find and do research on each part of the list.
- Save. Save based on the research you’ve done, and save more than that if you can. And if you can pay off any debt, you have to do that first. So that if you need to borrow money for the business, you won’t get yourself into more debt.
- Launch. When you’ve done as much as you could, and you feel good about it. Launch. Don’t be so particular that you let your fears get in the way. Talk yourself up, and know that there’s always room for growth, but when you’re at a good place where the product/service is good, go ahead and launch. There are plenty of things you can figure out along the way once you have your product ready.
Where can people find you and your business?
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